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Animal Farm: Chapter V - Summary

As winter approaches, Mollie’s behavior becomes increasingly perturbed. She is late for work and feigns injury in order to shirk her duties. More seriously, Clover has spotted Mollie at the border of Foxwood, allowing Mr. Pilkington to stroke her nose and talk to her. Mollie denies the accusation, but her embarrassment confirms that she is lying. On a hunch, Clover goes to Mollie’s stall and finds a hidden stash of sugar and ribbons. Mollie disappears soon after. She is seen in a painted cart, gussied up and taking sugar from a man who appears to be some kind of manager. The other animals never mention her again.

January brings bitterly cold weather. Since conditions are too harsh for farming, the animals hold many meetings. They have agreed that the pigs should make all policy decisions, which the other animals are to ratify. Snowball andNapoleon are in constant disagreement, and the other animals begin to take sides. The sheep support Napoleon and interrupt Snowball’s speeches by bleating, “Four legs good, two legs bad.” Snowball is the more progressive politician, promoting innovations to make the farm run more efficiently. Napoleon makes sure to oppose all of Snowball’s ideas.

After some time, Snowball and Napoleon come into bitter conflict over a windmill. Snowball designates a piece of land for a windmill, which will provide electricity for the heretofore-primitive farm. He uses Mr.Jones’s books to draft a detailed chalk blueprint, which fascinates the other animals. One day, Napoleon urinates on the blueprint to show his disdain.

Snowball estimates that the animals can complete the windmill with a year of hard labor, after which the time saving machine will shorten their workweek to three days. Napoleon counters with the idea that they will all starve to death in that time, and that the farm’s primary concern should be increasing food production. The animals split into two groups, one called “Vote for Snowball and the three-day week,” the other called “Vote for Napoleon and the full manger” (65). The only animal not to take a side is Benjamin, who is pessimistic about both plans.

Snowball and Napoleon engage in another major debate about how best to prepare for another human attack. Napoleon advocates the procurement of firearms as well as firearms training. Snowball advocates sending pigeons to rally the other animals; if rebellions occur everywhere, then the humans will stay at bay. The other animals do not divide over this issue because they cannot decide who is right.

Finally, Snowball completes his blueprint for the windmill. The animals hold a meeting at which Snowball wins over the majority with his descriptions of the leisurely life that the windmill will allow. Suddenly, Napoleon signals “nine enormous dogs wearing brass-studded collars,” which barge into the barn and chase Snowball out. Snowball manages to escape through a hedge. The frightened animals gather once more in the barn. As it turns out, the nine dogs are Jessie’s and Bluebell’s puppies. They seem to consider Napoleon their master. Napoleon takes the stage and announces that Sunday meetings with all their accompanying debates will cease, and he will lead a small committee of pigs in making decisions. This mandate disturbs the other animals, but most of them are too dull to argue and too afraid of the dogs to show their disapproval. Four pigs protest briefly.

After the meeting, Squealer explains the new arrangement to the other animals. Just as in the case of the milk and apples, Squealer claims that taking on leadership responsibilities is a burden for Napoleon and his committee; they do it only for the general welfare. If left to make their own decisions, he explains, the animals might make a wrong decision. He also calls Snowball a criminal; even if he was brave in the Battle of the Cowshed (an idea that Squealer also questions), “loyalty and obedience are more important.” Squealer tells the animals, “Discipline, comrades, iron discipline! That is the watchword for today.” Again as in the case of the milk and apples, Squealer ensures the animals’ compliance by threatening Mr. Jones’s return. Of all the animals, Boxer takes obedience to the pigs to heart most. He now has two personal maxims: “Napoleon is always right” and “I will work harder” (70).

Winter turns into spring. The pigs disinter Old Major’s skull and place it at the base of the flagpole beside the gun. When they meet to receive their orders for the week, the animals no longer sit all together. Rather, the dogs and other pigs gather around Napoleon, Squealer, and another pig named Minimus. Only three days after Snowball’s removal, Napoleon announces plans to build the windmill and make similar improvements to the farm. Squealer explains to the animals that Napoleon had never really opposed the windmill—in fact, it was “his own creation,” which Snowball had copied. With evident pride, Squealer explains that Napoleon’s feigned opposition to the windmill was simply a “maneuver” in his plan to expel Snowball for disobedience; it was a brilliant example of “tactics” (72).

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